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38 Weeks, and the Cinnamon Challenge

      It’s been kind of a weird week for me. I feel like I’ve been operating on auto-pilot with all of the stuff on my to-do list. I have begun to question my new norm, and whether or not I should let myself have a normal routine with the kids. I know that we need a sense of normalcy, but I don’t want to get comfortable in a routine, and then not know how to break it when my husband does eventually come home. No more emotional Cathi this week. I’ve actually been kind of boring lately. Of course, my definition of boring is probably totally different than most. I’ve reached a phase of this deployment where I’m numb again. I feel like God is telling me to just sit still for a little bit, and I’m not even questioning Him as to why. So, I’m just being still. The silence isn’t bothering me like it used to. And I guess that’s what scares me a little bit. I’m afraid that I’m actually getting used to this. My husband is living his new norm, and it really sucks being an outsider in his life.

    As military wives, there’s so much that we just have to deal with. We have to move, deal with it. You have to be seen by the sucky doctors on post, deal with it. Your husband has to leave you for 16 months, deal with it. While he’s gone, he will shut down emotionally in order to put the mission first, deal with it. We can get up and run away, because it’s just too hard. We can go out and get a divorce if we want to (because we have the power of attorney, so it’s actually possible). We can find someone else, that is in no way affiliated with the military, someone who won’t leave us, make us move, or fall under OPSEC orders. We have options, if we want to take them, but we don’t. We just deal with it. I’m not angry. These are just the facts of our lives. We love our husbands, so we just deal with it all. We’re not strong. We just have no say so in much outside of the realm of what’s for dinner, and what kind of laundry detergent we use. I try to be open enough on here to allow people to peek into this world, but the truth is that no one will ever really know what’s going on deep inside the heart of a military wife. Underneath all of the layers of “deal with it,” “currently working on dealing with it,” and “dealt with,” is an undefined feeling that we’re experts at hiding. There are moments when we look into the mirror and we see it if we stare for more than a few seconds, but we look away as soon as we notice it staring back at us…that undefined feeling is the only one that we just absolutely cannot deal with. No one can make us deal with it, because no one ever knows that it exists. Please understand that these phases and these feelings don’t mean that we want to give up. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have faith in God’s plan. It doesn’t mean that we hate our lives. If anything, we push harder than most people. We live on faith alone most days, and we wouldn’t trade our lives with anyone else out there. We look forward to retirement more than our military spouses. That’ll be the day we can finally say, “I’m done dealing with it,” and we hope that hidden feeling will fade. Does it ever fade? Is there a retired spouse that can tell me it goes away? I hope so. It’s a heck of a burden, and I’m pretty sure it’s the culprit behind my love handles.

Activity #38: The Cinnamon Challenge

   So, seriously, don’t try this. It’s so dumb. I actually feel a little mad at myself for wasting a tablespoon of cinnamon. My sinuses have been a disaster for hours, and I keep verping up cinnamon mixed with water and a protein bar. What idiot first came up with this? I’d like to kick them in the shin. Now I’m one of the thousands of idiots that have tried and failed. I’m not taking a bow…I’m admitting defeat and embarrassment. But, whatever! Another week, and another activity down! Bring on the next week, I’ve got a whole sack of crazy here…who wants to add to it? Anyone, anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

So, until next week, send your crazy to me, since I’m going there anyway!

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37 Weeks and Walking it Out

    I have been really hard on myself lately for being so bummed. I’ve been feeling like, as a Christian woman, I shouldn’t be crying so much and missing my husband as much as I have been. I kept trying to snap myself out of it every time my emotions would start to show. It got so bad that I was even ridiculing myself in my head, in private! I kept telling myself, “You have Jesus, girl! Get a grip! You should be perfectly content with Him alone!” It wasn’t until I went to the first of many future get-togethers, of some wives hanging out to study God’s Word together, that I was brought to my senses. My girlfriends pointed out that it’s perfectly okay for me to feel this way – more than that, it’s actually good and healthy for me to feel incomplete without my husband here! God created the marriage relationship to be an example of our communion with Him. There is a scripture that says,

        “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” – Genesis 2:24

    No wonder it hurts so bad! My body has been torn and separated (Obviously that’s a metaphor. My physical body is doing A-Okay, folks.) We aren’t meant to be separated for this long! Thank goodness there are only 7ish years left of this! I look at the number of weeks at the top of this post and think, “How in the heck have I made it this far without completely losing it yet?!” I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself,

     “Uh…Cathi…girl, you have lost it already. Multiple times. Hello? Mar-eye-lean?”

But I assure you, that’s nothing. That was actually one of my best days! You see, the weird stuff is a coping mechanism, and a darn good one at that! I realize that I’ve been rather emotional lately, and I apologize if it’s made you at all uncomfortable, but I’m missing flesh here people, okay? Cut me some slack. You can’t say I didn’t warn you. If you do some research through the archives, you will find that I gave a firm admonition of what was to come. The coping comes through waves of sadness, madness, anger, and depression. Then, unsuspected, random bits of joy spurt up in between it all. Maybe “torn flesh” isn’t the best way to describe what I’m going through. Maybe I should refer to it as “Marital Menopause”. Yeah, that sounds about right. Excuse me while I nurse a hot flash for a moment.

Activity #37: Walking it Out

   There is a lot of stress that comes along with doing the job of man & woman, husband & wife, mom & dad. There have been a multitude of moments when I about lost my cool over the load that I was carrying alone. I was getting steamed up, and God heard me shout. Just as I was about to tip and pour, He told me to dance. I’ve found that a little bit of Unk or old school boom boom rap has done the trick lately! Somehow, after I pop, lock, and drop it (and sometimes fall over), I am instantly refreshed and at peace! You should seriously try it some time! Don’t be fooled…this is not an EMO video! You had better be jamming with me by the end of this!!!

I challenge you to try this next time you feel like you’re about to flip a lid. Just stop where you are and dance. You’ll feel better, I promise!

Until next week, send your crazy to me, since I’m going there anyway!

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36 Weeks and My First Guest Writer!

     Tonight, as I walked through my night time routine of flossing, moisturizing, and brushing my hair, I glanced over at his empty sink next to mine. I closed my eyes and tried to remember what my normal night time routine was with my husband home. I tried so hard to picture it, but I just couldn’t grasp any palpable memories. I know he’s always done with his manly grooming before I finish my 85-layers of sunshine on my pearly whites, but I can’t recall anything other than my new normal. I don’t even remember what it’s like to crawl into bed with him in it. So many changes have happened since he left-with me, with the house, and with the kids- that they’ve kind of taken over my memory space, tossing the night time routine out the window. I don’t like that. I hate that I’m trying to force myself to remember, and I hate that the memory of it all is so foreign to me. Lately, it’s been becoming increasingly difficult to hold back the tears in front of people. I want to share this burden with others, but I’d much rather choose when and with whom to do the sharing. Embarrassingly though, my emotions are starting to do their own thing and drag me along for the ride. I need to get control over this, and I’m so tempted to just stay away from people and situations that might trigger my susceptibility to allow those dang, stinkin’ tears to pour. Thankfully, I’ve had several opportunities to chat with a fellow military wife who is on the other end of the finish line. Her husband recently retired from 29 years in the Army, and she has been by his side for 26 of them. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only person in the world that’s feeling this way, but she has reminded me that I’m not alone. This week, in lieu of one of my wild and crazy shenanigans, I am honored to feature a piece of her writing about a rapid journey through her memory as she prepared her speech to honor her husband at his retirement ceremony. She’s a remarkable women, and a jewel of wisdom, carefully sculpted by the long, difficult, but oh-so-rewarding road that her career as a Soldier’s #1 sidekick has taken her down. I hope you enjoy her openness and vulnerability as much as I have.

Activity #36: Guest Writer!

      Tomorrow will be the big day and the beginning of the next chapter of our life!  However, it feels like more than a new chapter – probably more like a new novel!  How do I sum up 26 years of my life as a military spouse into a few short words?!  I don’t think it’s possible for that to even be a twitterable conversation!  But my husband said I needed to figure out what I was going to say in my speech.  I don’t think he is really going to give me the mic, just offering if I want to say something.  I really don’t want to say anything, but just in case he makes a big deal out of it, I guess I’d better have something short, sweet, and simple to say!  So, do I start with the two shortest deployments of the four that came at the absolute worst possible times – when all of my kids were 6 months to a year or the one that was supposed to be 12 months and was extended to 15 and announced by CNN?  Or do I talk about how back in the olden days how hard a deployment was when I had to wait for snail mail for communication from my husband?  Or how I had to wait a day to see if I had the knock on the door when I heard on the news that night that an Engr unit was hit in Somalia and how no news was good news – extremely good news! – back then?  Or how about when my only dance partner for New Years Eve was my 6 month old son while everyone else had their spouse to dance with and I ended the evening early and cried myself to sleep?  Or do I mention all of the times when I had to comfort my girls’ broken hearts or try to find the “cool” mom words to say to a very sad teenage son?  Or how about all the driving lessons that were never completed when my husband was around and I had to use the imaginary passenger seat braking system many times over?  Or what about mentioning the millions of doctors visits and the many hours spent just trying to make the appt and pick up medication?  Or how I had to be the transportation solution to get to the cool skatepark in Austin? Or how I was the one running the BN FRG while they were deployed for 15 months and trying to balance all of that out with my mother/father/home responsibilities?  Or should I just sum it up how I was a mother, father, maid, nutritionist, cook, taxi driver, errand runner, yard specialist, accountant, counselor, nurse, spiritual leader, laundry specialist, disciplinarian, heart mender, child psych, teacher and tutor, art instructor, Girl Scout leader and skateboarding/soccer/cheer/volleyball/swim/track sports cheerleader-mom?  There are just too many memories to encapsulate it into one short speech.  Maybe I’ll just say that it was a very long 3 years (that’s all it was supposed to have been!), but they were 26 years that have taught me a lot and shaped me into the person who I am today. They have taken me places that I would never have had the chance to see and have given me friends that I would never have met.  There have been some good times and some bad times along the way, but I think God was just shaping us into who He wanted us to be and this journey has been our “blessings in disguise!”  I look forward to seeing what God has in store for us for our next chapter – or novel – in life! 

                                                                                                                                                                                                -LeaAnn

P.S. I hope my words and my experiences can help give others hope and I really hope they encourage others to not give up on their Soldier or their marriage! God can get them through it all and help them to become an encouragement to others!

      Thank you, LeaAnn, for your honesty, your willingness to share with the rest of us, and for proving that prayer, love, and loyalty are the keys to a successful military marriage. Congratulations on retirement, and may God continue to guide your steps as He leads you through this next stage of life. Thank you for setting a beautiful example of how to make it through the tough days and press on toward the next goal. And most importantly, thank you for serving our country by crying yourself to sleep at night, and missing your husband, while I was being tucked safely into bed at night as a little girl. You’ve paved the way for future military wives, and I hope I can leave even just half of the legacy that trails behind you.

Until next week, send your crazy to me, since I’m going there anyway!

 

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35 Weeks and Homemade Vanilla

     How can I be so lucky as to stumble across a “Who Are You Meant to Be?” quiz by Oprah? Oh my goodness…I am just beside myself right now! If you know me well, then you know that I think Oprah is a fraud. She’s supposedly the richest woman of all time, and I don’t quite understand why she’s so busy funding education programs for women in Africa instead of using her money to just save the lives of all of the starving, sick, and dying children. It’s like the Chinese outlook on men, just reversed. Or, why doesn’t she give her gazillion dollars to our government and fix the deficit? She’s got enough followers that I’m pretty sure someone will take her in, feed her, and buy her a few women’s suits to help make up for her sacrifice. If Oprah used her fame and fortune to actually make a difference in the survival of the world, maybe she wouldn’t be number 1 on my “eye-roller” list. Education for girls? Puh-lease. If I’m stuck in a well with no way out and a box of supplies renewed weekly, I’m not going to be crossing my fingers, hoping that there’s a copy of Leaves of Grass in there. Walt Whitman may be a whimsical poetry gangster, but unless he has a brand of beef jerky, he needs to stay the heck out of my survival kit. Moving on… I’m about to take this life changing quiz and have Oprah tell me what my destiny is (fact: we once lived next door to a little girl whose name was actually “Mydestiny”. True story.)

My results….Okay…Who am I meant to be, O?

You are an intellectual: As a leader, {you’re often ahead of your time. As an employee, you try to surpass the competence level of peers, even managers. Incisive and curious, you’re driven to deeply understand how things work. But that’s things, not people. Oh, your family and friends are important; it’s just that you don’t need to spend hours engaging with them.} <–blah blah blah Social validation isn’t your goal—you’re secure enough in your cerebral pursuits.

What? I’m so confused. I’m secure enough in my cerebral pursuits? Oh gosh…I’m pretty sure I love people, and I know I said I didn’t want the poetry book!

What to watch out for: When you can’t find a way to be the expert, you may withdraw or simply withhold information, {hold up…I’ll withhold info from people? Since when?} which can make you seem smug or arrogant. If you feel yourself retreating into your own world, seek a friend’s help to pull you back. Also balance your cerebral tendencies through physical activities like jogging, hiking, or dance.

Good thing I like to go yogging (<–not a typo. Often times, I speak in movie quotes. It passes the time, and helps me to wade through the crowd and find my soul-friends. People that bounce my quote with the next line from the source and I are meant to be BFF’s)

Looking ahead: You discover who you are meant to be through accumulating insight and {yawning} knowledge. So follow your curiosity. Are you drawn to learning Mandarin? {no. not even in the slightest.} Join-ing  {why is there a hyphen in the word joining there?} a philosophy society? {you mean like the KKK? No thanks, not for me.} Studying and practicing Buddhist meditation? {like black magic and Bon Temps type stuff? Nah. I like chai lattes.} Delving into the complexities of computer programming? Writing a historical book? Pursuits that place you near the leading edge of technology, science, psychology, academia, or business are good bets. But any situation that allows you to work independently with freedom to investigate and innovate will fuel your drive.

Academia? Is that a disease? It sounds serious. I wonder if anyone who got this result was actually ever a Buddhist in school Majoring in Philosophy with a Minor in Mandarin.

Here is the list of things I have to choose from:

Biomedical Research
Computer Programming
Law
Education
Engineering
Management
Environmental Planning
Telecomunication

Telecommunication? Really, Oprah? Cathi is not anything from this list. In fact, the quiz was titled “Who are you meant to be?” not “What career field should you work in?” Is that how our society views success and value of a person? In their career field? I think people are sadly mistaken. If education is what drives me, and my goals should be biomedical research or environmental planning, then I am destined for failure. I don’t think the question should be asked before you become someone. I think we just need to wait and ask ourselves that question in our last breaths. “What did I do with my life?” “Was it worth it?” “Did I make a difference for anyone?” “Did that difference have an eternal value or did I just hand someone a book and tell them to read it?”

      I spoke to a soon-to-be Young Life teen girl recently, and she told me that everyone walks around pretending like everything’s okay, when it’s really not. She said, “I wish everyone would just be honest with each other about what’s hurting them. Then no one would ever feel like they have to hide anything.” She couldn’t be more right. There are times when I am so open and honest on here and with friends, and I usually end up closing my eyes as I hit “publish”. I know I have to click it quickly before I change my mind on my level of openness. I’m often embarrassed at the amount of detail that I give away, but if I keep it to myself then my experiences are worthless. Sure, I might learn lessons from them, but how selfish is it to keep those lessons to myself. I’m sorry Oprah, but your quiz results couldn’t be any further from the truth. I’m guilty of a lot of things, but withholding information is definitely not one of them. Can I get an Amen?

     I’m always going back and forth between sharing and not sharing the struggles behind the scenes of this military wife life. I need to always remember that my tough days are lessons, and those lessons are achievements to be hung up and displayed. So, here’s my admission for this week: I’m so overwhelmed with the tasks that have to be done in my house. I am physically able to do them, but I can’t clone myself to be mom and dad, husband and wife, rational and impulsive all at the same time. If I just had time, manly intimidation, unlimited free babysitting, my husband’s muscles…I could get it all done. If I just had my husband here, then I could get it all done. I get so overwhelmed with the tasks and I melt down. When I melt down, I have to do it quietly and quickly, with my door shut so that my boys don’t see. If my husband was here, I would just fall into his lap and sob…but then again, if he was here my list would already be an afterthought, and I’d be sipping a pumpkin spiced hot cocoa while people watching and resting my head on his shoulder right now. This week, we’re 8 months into the separation and 4 months into the deployment. I’m still not used to this. It still sucks just as much as day 1. But, I’m still breathing, and I’m still so grateful for every lesson I’ve learned so far. God has amazing things in store, and this week is going to be another adventure in faith and struggle. I’m not ready, but ready or not…here it goes.

Activity #35: Homemade Vanilla

Homemade Vanilla

I like to make homemade Christmas gifts that are actually practical and useful. Last year, I made rice-bag heating pads. This year, it’s going to be homemade vanilla. It a little time-consuming, but totally worth it! All you need is vodka and vanilla beans. Don’t get expensive vodka, plain old bottom shelf will do. Also, don’t buy vanilla beans from the store. They’re way too expensive! Try www.vanillaproductsusa.com They send bonus beans, and the shipment came in less than a week!

All you need are vodka and vanilla beans
pour out about 1/2 cup into a different container
I used a coke bottle, and it the perfect size for 5 bottles
Slice the beans in half lengthwise
Insert 12 beans (24 halves) into each 1L bottle of vodka
Store in a cool, dry place for 3 months, shaking once a week.

Since a lot of my friends who read this will be getting this as their Christmas gifts this year, just pretend that you are surprised when I hand it to you, okay? And pretend like I didn’t say this was easy, okay? The house smells so good right now! I even have some vanilla beans left over! I may have to include them in my next package for my husband! Let me know if you try this, and how it goes for you! Please leave your love in the comments section below, and add your quirky suggestions to the box on the right! Enjoy your week everyone, and send your crazy to me since I’m going there anyway!